LIV Golf is nearing an agreement with US cable television network Fox Sports 1 to purchase airtime for its tournaments, Golfweek reported Wednesday, citing multiple sources.
Since its official announcement in March, the fledgling professional golf circuit, funded by Saudi Arabia’s state wealth fund, has operated without a TV deal, but streamed its events for free on YouTube and Facebook, despite an initial outlay of more than $1 billion to some. to poach. of the sport’s biggest names on the PGA Tour.
While the vast majority of major sports organizations sell their broadcasting rights as a block to media companies in exchange for significant upfront payments, the reported deal will see LIV Golf pay for its own airtime with the goal of recouping the cost by selling their own commercial sponsorship.
Should the LIV Golf deal with Fox Sports 1 come through, it would also be required to comply with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requirements issued in March requiring broadcasters to disclose when foreign governments or their representatives lease time on their ether.
A representative from LIV Golf described Golfweek’s report as “incomplete and inaccurate” when the Guardian contacted him, but declined to comment on the potential implications of FCC regulations, which require disclosure at the time of broadcast if a foreign government agency a radio or television paid station, directly or indirectly, to air material.
“LIV Golf has exceeded expectations and is ahead of schedule on many fronts, including broadcast rights,” the spokesperson said. “As we stated earlier, LIV Golf is just beginning the process and is in active discussions with several companies about broadcasting the LIV Golf League. We warn that no one should draw any conclusions about possible media rights as we are still negotiating with several outlets.”
Critics have accused the Saudi government of using its reported $2 billion investment to clear the kingdom’s bleak human rights record, alleged links to the September 11 attacks, severe crackdown on women’s and LGBTQ+ rights, and the murder of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 since the breakaway golf tour was announced six months ago.
LIV Golf will be responsible for producing its own broadcasts in addition to selling its own ads, a “well-placed industry manager” told Golfweek.
The source also said that LIV Golf had tried to partner with a number of other potential broadcast partners but was turned down by NBC, CBS, Disney, Apple and Amazon. Fox Sports, the director said, only got involved at the behest of Lachlan Murdoch, the executive chairman and CEO of Fox Corp.
The executive disputed the prospects of LIV Golf chief executive Greg Norman, who recently told ESPN that he spoke with four different networks about traditional broadcasting rights deals.
The potential Fox Sports deal represents a reversal of the standard model and is rare in today’s sports television ecosystem, but is not entirely unprecedented. In 2015, influential boxing executive Al Haymon, backed by more than $425 million in institutional capital, launched the Premier Boxing Champions series by reportedly paying $20 million to purchase airtime for 20 shows on NBC and NBC Sports Network.
However, the PBC deal included co-investments from the NBC family in the form of shared production costs, on-air talent and promotional assets.
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